I want to focus on the grossly unequal manner in which such rules will inevitably be enforced, and to examine also what this does to the notion of equal protection. From my perspective, the startling thing about the Gregory affair is not so much that the powers-that-be eventually declined to prosecute him for his transgression, but that he was so unfailingly sure that he would be allowed to break the law without consequences. In a vacuum, it is easy to make the case that there was no need to indict NBC for its crime. Indeed it is difficult to imagine a set of circumstances in which doing so could be considered a good use of the city’s time and resources. But the entitled nonchalance with which Gregorypresumed that his behavior would be ignored should worry all of us.
Can we honestly presume that your average pro–Second Amendment protester would have been afforded such latitude? Imagine, if you will, that a Gadsden-flag-wrapped NRA member from Dryden, N.Y., takes to a podium to denounce that state’s SAFE Act and, shouting about tyranny and the Founders, holds aloft a 30-round Magpul magazine — in full view of the authorities. Does he get away with it? I’m not so sure that he does. Nor, for that matter, am I convinced that such latitude would be conferred upon someone who, unlike Gregory, was genuinely unaware that the rules had changed. Indeed, in March of last year, the very same government that let Gregory go secured the conviction of a D.C. resident named Mark Witaschek. Why? Well, because Witscheck had been found in possession of an “antique replica muzzleloader bullet” that wasn’t even live. Witaschek, the Washington Times’s Emily Miller records, had been on a hunting trip outside of the district, and he brought back as “souvenirs” an expended shotgun shell and a copper bullet that lacked both the gunpowder and the primer that are necessary to use it. Although Witaschek did not possess a firearm in the city — and although the ammunition could not possibly be fired — authorities in D.C. spent two years prosecuting him.
Cooke nails it.
Now, none of this is to suggest that the United States is worse off for Gregory’s absolution. […] But the law is the law, and it has on other occasions been used to prosecute good people for the most benign of infractions. In Gregory we have a man who not only violated the rules, but did so on national television after he had been explicitly told not to. What should we take from this?
Explaining its decision, the attorney general noted that Gregory’s “prosecution would not promote public safety in the District of Columbia nor serve the best interests of the people of the District to whom this office owes its trust.” As opposed to, say, the persecution of Mark Witaschek, which saved the republic from certain downfall?
Therein lies the rub – when the elites can purposefully defy the law, despite being informed that their actions are illegal, and know that not only will there be no consequences but that those actually effected by it will not be similarly spared… how is that justice?